To track or not to track.

Here’s the scoop.  I’ve used many wrist heart rate trackers in my day ranging from several versions of the Fitbit all the way to an Apple Watch. Your heart rate is essential when estimating how many calories you burn during your workout. In very general terms, the higher your heart rate during a workout – the more calories you are going to burn. Your age and weight also come into play, but basically your heart rate plays a huge role determining energy expenditure.

Now – I do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) which involves a lot of push ups and planking type of exercises. I started to notice that when I was doing HIIT workouts…my wrist tracker wasn’t reading my heart rate accurately.  When I would finish a VERY intense HIIT workout (such as INSANITY) my “calories burned read” was very low when compared to a 1 hour run for example.

Why is this?  Because the technology used to measure your heart rate with a wrist tracker – doesn’t do well when you are flexing your muscles a lot (push-up etc.) When I’m running, my arm is consistently moving (and not flexing) so the wrist tracker does a better job.  If you want more details about this – check out this article.  It does a great job explaining in more detail.

SO – after much research, I decided to take the plunge and get a CHEST Strap Heart Rate Monitor. I was initially leery about getting one before because I thought I might be annoying, or slip etc…Turns out the one I use is great and I barely notice it at all. PLUS it’s much more accurate when I’m doing HIGH INTENSITY workouts!

Great!  I can finally accurately track all the calories I’m burning during those intense workouts…

However – After using it over the last few weeks I’ve made some interesting observations that are worth sharing.

1 – During a one hour workout – on average, the calories I burn are very consistent regardless of what I’m doing.

Whether I’m running, doing HIIT or just some light cardio for an hour, I’m burning about 8-10 calories/minute. Doesn’t matter what I’m doing – if I’m sweating I’m burning! And turns out I don’t always need to go SUPER hard. The results are the basically the same.  What’s important for me is consistency and exercising everyday .

2 – Tracking Calories Burned doesn’t stop poor nutrition choices.

It’s great to know how many calories I’ve burned…BUT what I put in my mouth every day is so much more important than what I burn off.  If I don’t eat well, I won’t lose. Period. Nutrition is everything.

3 – Sometimes – it’s nice to just work out…without trying to TRACK everything all the time.

Personally, the reason why I exercise is to relieve stress and feel good about myself. Sometimes, over thinking the whole process with a tracker etc… takes away from the CORE benefits that come with exercise…Especially if I’m burning the same amount of calories anyway….

In conclusion – I do like tracking my workouts with the Chest Strap because I like seeing my results when I’m done and it does help motivate me to get going. BUT – it’s not the end all, be all.  My workouts ALL count…even the easy ones, it’s the consistency of them that matter.

Your Friend


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